Photographer's Note

A picture of Sweetheart Abbey in the little village of New Abbey, just a few miles south of Dumfries on the way to the Solway coast. A wonderful piece of architecture in a wonderful setting and with a beautifully romantic history.

From the Undiscovered Scotland website (

"The story of the founding of Sweetheart Abbey is held to be a testament to the enduring power of love. On 10 April 1273 Lady Devorgilla signed a charter establishing a new Cistercian abbey here in memory of her husband, John Balliol, who had died four years earlier. Thanks to the Reformation her later endowment of a college at Oxford University in his name turned out to be a more enduring memorial.

"Lady Devorgilla's love for her departed husband extended to carrying his embalmed heart around with her in an ivory box with enamelled silver trimmings. After her death in 1290 she was buried in the sanctuary of the abbey church she had founded, and on her instructions the casket containing her husband's heart was buried beside her.

"The guide book tells us that in tribute to her love for her husband, the monks in the abbey she had founded chose thereafter to call it Dulce Cor or Sweetheart Abbey. The enduring power of love, certainly: but to squeamish modern sensibilities this is a love story with a distinctly gruesome edge.
While the abbey became known as Sweetheart, the village that grew to serve it stuck with the original and more straightforward name of New Abbey. This was intended primarily to distinguish it from the not so distant Dundrennan, home of Sweetheart Abbey's mother house, Dundrennan Abbey.

"For the next quarter of a millennium monks lived, worshipped and died at Sweetheart. Edward I stayed here in 1300 but Sweetheart didn't suffer the same fate of many Scottish abbeys further east at the hands of passing English armies. In the late 1300s it came under the protection of Archibald the Grim, Lord of Galloway and builder of Threave Castle.

"The end of Sweetheart Abbey as an active religious community followed the Reformation of 1560, though the impact here was more gradual than almost anywhere else in Scotland. By this time Sweetheart was under the protection of Lord Maxwell, a Catholic. With his help the last Abbot, Gilbert Broun continued to reside at Sweetheart and to practice the unreformed religion in defiance of the new order.

"In 1603 Abbot Gilbert was imprisoned in Blackness Castle for his obstinacy, but on release he returned to Sweetheart. In 1608 his belongings were publicly burned in Dumfries and the Abbot was exiled to France, where he died four years later.

"Many of the domestic buildings associated with Sweetheart Abbey were then slowly dismantled to provide stone for buildings in the village. In a remarkably early act of conservation, local subscribers clubbed together in 1779 to preserve the shell of the abbey church and what was left of the remainder 'as an ornament to that part of the country'.

"Their successors passed the abbey into State care in 1928 and it is now looked after by Historic Scotland. In 1974 a plaque was unveiled commemorating Sir William Paterson, founder of the Bank of England and architect of the Darien Scheme, who was buried at Sweetheart Abbey in 1719."

I took this a couple of days ago during a trip to Dumfries. I packed my new 10-22mm lens to try it out here. Unfortunately, the weather was pretty wet and miserable and I ended up getting a few blobs of rain on the filter which I didn't notice until I arrived home and looked at the pictures. Drat! So this was one of the first pictures I took: hopefully I might be able to resurrect one or two of the others later.

pat0500, KLB, jaywalker, parbo, x-ray, saxo042, jorgi has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by John Cannon (tyro) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1986 W: 431 N: 7659] (30513)
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